Stillwater (2021) Film Review

Director: Tom McCarthy

Writers: Tom McCarthy, Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain

Stars: Matt Damon, Camille Cottin, Abigail Breslin

RATING: 3.5 Stars

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A father travels from Oklahoma to France to help his estranged daughter, who is in prison for a murder she claims she didn’t commit. – From IMDB

These true crime type biopics are usually a guaranteed firm favourite of mine. Spotlight by this director was one of my favourite films of 2015 and was one of the films that began my love of this genre. But this film felt like it was trying to tell too many stories, making the 2 hour twenty runtime feel inexcusably long and overly bloated.

The main crux of the story, the crime that Bill’s daughter is in prison for, and insists she is innocent of, is easily the most interesting part of the story, but is constantly over shadowed by the side story involving a potential romantic relationship between Bill and a woman he meets while staying in Marseille. That will not be the story that most viewers will be there to see, and while it does allow for a little character growth and development for Bill, it is largely inconsequential to the overall story other than to add a little conflict later on.

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Matt Damn gives a pretty decent performance here, even if the character he plays is rather unlikable. His American-ness is so over exaggerated as to nearly be ridiculous. I can’t decide if this is a purposeful decision by the film makers, to explain his relationship with his daughter or not? But it seems such a waste of time to have the character go through such a lot of development during the (over long) middle section of the film, only to have a few terrible decisions put him right back where he started again at the end of the film. For me it is child actor Lilou Siauvaud, who plays Maya, that steals every scene she is in. Utterly charming and a joy to watch, I loved every time she was on screen,

The most frustrating aspect of the film might be that once evidence is collected and doubt thrown on Allison’s innocence, the process of getting her released from prison is completely skipped. We literally go from the lawyer saying the case is being reopened, to Allison’s welcome home party back in the states. That was a hell of a lot of set up for very, very little payoff.

To check this one out for yourself, Stillwater is out in UK cinemas from Friday 6th July

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